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Stream of Consciousness: the amazing future of 5G entertainment

  • 6 minute read
  • Published by Lucy Woods on 26 Jun 2019
  • Last modified 28 Jun 2019
By Alex Connock

5G networks will start in 2020, connecting over a billion users by 2025, with speeds a ridiculous 1000 times faster than those boring old 4G phone networks you’re used to. That means easily 1.5 Gigabytes per second, and perhaps far more. On top of those technical numbers, most people know there has been some sort of argument about where the equipment should come from. But what most don’t know….is what you can actually do with all that streaming power.

So what’s fun about 5G ? We’ve rounded up what some of the best thinkers around the world have said about how creativity and entertainment will change in 5G. Here’s a quick guide.


RAPID FIRE: At the recent AT&T Shape conference, Nvidia showed how its GeForce Now, a cloud service for games, could stream Batman Arkham City over 5G in exactly the same way that it would work on a PlayStation box sat in the corner (reported by CNET). Which means you could be looking at a massive, Netflix-style cloud-based games library within a year from now. And there will be bigger and better multi-player games in super real virtual environments too.

GeForce Now


TRY NOW/BUY NOW: ecommerce has blazed a trail of destruction through the high street by being more fun and more convenient than actual shopping. And it could be about to do it again - becoming like Tinder, with mirrors at home replaced with HD monitors with cameras, that allow you or your shape-perfect avatar to ‘virtually’ try on hundreds of combinations of clothing, said Mo Katibeh, CMO of AT&T Business to Adweek.

You could ‘swipe right’ to try on another shirt or even automatically get recommendations on accessories.

And because of the sheer tsunami of content and data flowing between the user and the cloud, plus AI, the recommendations on what to wear will be ever better personalised.

Stores and shopping centers with superfast connections to data, HD live video and interactive mixed-reality window displays could become more attractive destinations (Adweek also says). So maybe you’ll still be going to shopping malls after all.


BINGE OUT: In the 2020s, you will be carrying a near-unlimited library of HD content in your pocket. On the back lot at Warner Brothers, CNET ran a test with an AT&T 5G network installed there, and streamed entire movies - in just seconds. They reportedly downloaded the entire first season of Blue Planet (6 hours) in HD in 17 seconds from Netflix. In the UK, EE are starting to introduce this kind of service too.

CNET speedtest

LIVE FROM…..LITERALLY EVERYWHERE: TV won’t need all those boring vanloads of outside broadcast gear blocking up the event car park any more – because covering live events will be transformed. And it won’t just be the professionals doing it. With 5G, many mobile users at a festival could be streaming content simultaneously into the cloud, giving you the viewer at home the concert in real time from all angles. And the experience will be nicer too: “Perhaps after guiding your attendee to a session based on their interests and seating them next to someone they’ve expressed interest in meeting, your event app can offer them a nearby lunch recommendation,” says Eventbase.

JOIN THE ACTION: Or how about combining the live stream with a bit of AI, to put yourself at home inside the live event video, playing along on guitar, with a perfect sound mix ? 5G immersive experiences combined with AI could transform our entertainment in all kinds of such ways. You could be swapped live into a dance show, dancing like the pros, says one leading production company. Or you could put your friends into your favourite movies or TV shows - in real time.

GET IN THE GAME: Sports coverage is about to experience a revolution as radical as any in its history. We’re used to a bit of 360-degree race driving like Lewis Hamilton screaming through Monaco – but soon it will be in ultra HD and live, and many more angles. Or how about flying around a golf course during the match, hopping from one attendees’ live stream to the next until you find your personal favourite vantage point ?

AUGMENT YOUR REALITY: Using 5G’s instant video stream (many times more immediate than the 4G you’re used to) means you could layer onto live video all the information you want. That’s ‘volumetric’ Augmented Reality, plus AI, which allows data to be superimposed on a user’s screen – like this from Second Spectrum – letting you personalise your experience.

MAKE YOUR OWN SHOW: We all saw the interactive/multiple-outcome Bandersnatch episode of Black Mirror. A video from cool London/New York interactive video company Wirewax video asks soon…. “Will there be an award for best interactivity in a motion picture ?” You’ll be able to sit on a bus running your own edit of your favourite streamed drama. And you might even be able to put your family and friends into it.


LET’S GET SERIOUSLY CREATIVE: What can artists do with limitless bandwidth and instant global connectivity ? It’s a topic that’s hardly hit the zeitgeist yet – but Bristol’s Watershed and Smart Internet Lab got ahead of the game, in the Layered Realities 5G Showcase - asking artists, researchers and creatives “to produce bold new works in public space.” They did spectacular 3D-like projections, and Dancing Shadows, “a gorgeous virtual reality dance piece, plus a guided tour on which you take a walk through the future city."

HOME DÉCOR Fed up of all the tiring use of your imagination ? In the 2020s, an interiors or DIY brand could use 5G and immersive VR to instantly showcase customers what millions of furniture and design alternatives would look like in their homes (says Adweek).

Whatever you’re planning for the 2020s, you’d better set some time aside.

Cool companies whose stuff we checked out:

Wirewax - https://www.wirewax.com 
Platform Group - https://www.platformgroup.co.uk/team/
Second Spectrum - https://www.secondspectrum.com/ourwork.html
Watershed - https://www.watershed.co.uk 


Dr Alex Connock is Fellow at the Said Business School, University of Oxford, in the Future of Marketing team, and MD of Missile Digital Studios.